Leaders argue over new ‘centre ground’
CAN POLICIES MATCH IDEAS?
PEOPLE have lost faith in free markets, according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
They’ve had enough of a system which helps the rich get even richer but does nothing for the rest of us.
And that’s why people want government to step in and play a more active role in shaping society.
In fact, the idea that government should intervene, which has been unfashionable for so long, is now the new centre ground.
This was the argument in Mr Corbyn’s speech to the Labour conference last week. But it wasn’t new.
Because Conservative leader Theresa May said something similar in her speech to the Tory conference in 2016.
Mr Corbyn told his conference that Britain has an economy “delivering profits for a few, and debt for the many”. He warned: “Our economy no longer delivers secure housing, secure wellpaid jobs or rising living standards.”
Theresa May last year said people believe “that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them”.
She added: “Our economy should work for everyone, but if your pay has stagnated for several years in a row and fixed items of spending keep going up, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.”
Mr Corbyn said the answer was for government to do more.
He told his conference: “Now is the time that government took a more active role in restructuring our economy.”
And he called for “a new and dynamic role for the public sector, particularly where the private sector has evidently failed.”
Theresa May had the same idea.
She promised “a plan that will mean government stepping up. Righting wrongs. Challenging vested interests”. And she told her audience: “We should employ the power of government for the good of the people.”
Mr Corbyn claimed that his ideas were now the “centre ground”.
He said: “A new consensus is emerging from the great economic crash and the years of austerity.”
Mrs May said it was time “to embrace a new centre ground in which government steps up – and not back – to act on behalf of us all.”
The policies may be different, but the two leaders share a belief that voters won’t put up with growing inequality, and expect government to do something about it.
They may be right. The next question, then, is who has a plan to turn their words into action?
So far, the answer appears to be Mr Corbyn. Theresa May’s task when the Tories hold their annual conference in Manchester this week is to convince us otherwise.